This last summer I had decided to take on the west coast all at once. I flew to L.A. first, and from there I took a train to San Francisco. If you haven’t taken a train anywhere before, let me take a second to tell you how it works. The first thing you want to do is decide where it is you want to go and see if there are train stops near by. If you go to the Amtrak website you will be able to find all of the information you need. I got the 15-day Rail Pass with 8 segments for $459. Compared to flying, the price isn’t bad considering I went to 4 different cities. Once you make your reservations online, you will get an email. Now the email is not your ticket. You will have to bring the email with the barcode on it to an Amtrak station before you go on your trip. There, they will be able to get you your tickets for each segment. Now, you’re probably wondering what a segment is. From L.A. to San Fran was one segment. From San Fran to Portland was another segment. But, there are times when a train may stop at a station and let you off and you’ll have to get on a Thruway bus to get to a specific location. The trip using the bus counts as a segment, just as a trip using the train counts as a segment. I got the pass that allowed for 8 segments to be used in a 15 day period. I flew to L.A. and stayed there about 4 or 5 days. When I took the train from L.A. to San Francisco, that was the first day of the 15 days I was allotted. I stayed in San Fran for 4 days, then took the train to Portland, Oregon where I stayed one night. Then took the train to Seattle, Washington where I stayed 5 days before heading back to L.A. So as you can see there, I only used 4 segments out of my 8. Now there are a lot of trains you can take in the U.S. I chose Coast Starlight to travel the west coast because it went to the places I wanted to visit and I liked the route it took. As you can see in my pictures below, the train follows right along the coastline, so you get a beautiful view of the ocean.
Now, time to talk about San Francisco. First and foremost, it’s a city with it’s own unique characteristics. From the neighborhood hills, to the colorfully painted buildings, to the infamous cable cars, this city is definitely one of a kind. The piers are a must see. Pier 39 is the most well known one. That is where you can see the hundreds of sea lions sunbathing on top of the docks. Down at Pier 39 you will find restaurants, shops, and carnival type foods. It’s the perfect place to hangout on a warm sunny day. Circle line cruises are a great way to get to know the city’s history and interesting facts, along with getting the chance to get out on the water and see San Francisco’s amazing views. I didn’t get the opportunity because it was all booked up, but if you’re in the city, you should go on the Alcatraz tour. I hear it’s pretty cool! One thing I was surprised about was how windy it was there. Since I’m from Wichita, Kansas originally, I KNOW windy. However, being that San Francisco is surrounded by water, it would make sense that it would be windy. The cable cars are a known tourist attraction. I rode on one for the experience, but if there is a long line, I would recommend skipping it and doing something else with your day. It can take up to an hour and a half to get a spot on one of the cable cars. There are a ton of random fun things to check out and do in this city, so save yourself some time to just walk around and take it all in!